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Genetics and Molecular Biology

Print version ISSN 1415-4757On-line version ISSN 1678-4685


DINIZ-FILHO, José Alexandre Felizola  and  SANT'ANA, Carlos Eduardo Ramos de. Phylogenetic correlograms and the evolution of body size in South American owls (Strigiformes). Genet. Mol. Biol. [online]. 2000, vol.23, n.2, pp.285-292. ISSN 1415-4757.

During the last few years, many models have been proposed to link microevolutionary processes to macroevolutionary patterns, defined by comparative data analysis. Among these, Brownian motion and Ornstein-Uhlenbeck (O-U) processes have been used to model, respectively, genetic drift or directional selection and stabilizing selection. These models produce different curves of pairwise variance between species against time since divergence, in such a way that different profiles appear in phylogenetic correlograms. We analyzed variation in body length among 19 species of South American owls, by means of phylogenetic correlograms constructed using Moran's I coefficient in four distance classes. Phylogeny among species was based on DNA hybridization. The observed correlogram was then compared with 500 correlograms obtained by simulations of Brownian motion and O-U over the same phylogeny, using discriminant analysis. The observed correlogram indicates a phylogenetic gradient up to 45 mya, when coefficients tend to stabilize, and it is similar to the correlograms produced by the O-U process. This is expected when we consider that body size of organisms is correlated with many ecological and life-history traits and subjected to many constraints that can be modeled by the O-U process, which has been used to describe evolution under stabilizing selection.

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